Posts from June 2019

Posted in: Refresh PR

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Procrastinating? You can now blame the internet

It’s a tale as old as time (or at least as old as 1990); we’ve been warned of the negative impact that the internet has on attention span, memory processes and social interactions. But now, this theory has been backed up by scientists from the University of Manchester, Western Sydney University, Harvard University and Kings College, Oxford University who say that the internet is significantly affecting the brain and potentially, our whole social fabric.

I hold my hands up, the first thing I do in the morning is check Twitter and the last thing I see at night is my Instagram feed but working in PR, surely this is acceptable and can’t have THAT much of an impact? According to the report, I couldn’t be more wrong. The constant stream of prompts the internet so helpfully provides us with means we are now constantly holding a divided attention – which then in turn decreases our capacity for maintaining concentration on a single task. This sentiment has been further brought to our attention in the latest series of Black Mirror, with ‘Smithereen’ looking at our almost dependent relationship with tech and social media.

When you take a step back and look at your working practices, when was the last time you sat down and concentrated solely on one task without an email, Whatsapp notification or Facebook comment taking your attention? In fact, in the 12 minutes it has taken me to write these first three paragraphs, I’ve had seven emails, one push notification from ASOS and a text from Dominoes – hardly conducive to a productive working environment.

The report also looks into the limitless amount of information available at our fingertips and how this affects our ability to retain and value facts and knowledge. Similar to when mobile phones first came out and we mocked that maths non-calculator exams would soon be redundant, it seems that having access to more information than ever means we are losing our ability to retain any information whatsoever.

 All is not lost, however. We have been given ways in which we can minimise the potential adverse effects of ‘high-intensity multi-tasking Internet usage’. Professor Jerome Sarris, Deputy Director and Director of Research at NICM Health Research Institute suggests practicing mindfulness and adopting ‘Internet hygiene’ techniques such as reducing online multitasking, ritualistic ‘checking’ behaviours, and evening online activity, while engaging in more in-person interactions.

If the above touched a nerve with you, read this blog post from our account director, Lucy Moore, on deep work and how shutting off from the internet can help you be more productive:

Tagged with: Facebook, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, Social Media

Posted in: Refresh PR

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Isn’t it ironic: Amazon heads to the high street

Over the past decade, the UK high street has increasingly looked set to die, killed by a thousand cuts.  Since the collapse of Woolworths in 2008, 32 major retailers have met the same fate as the former icon of British retail.  

Last year alone led to the loss of an estimated 85,000 retail jobs as 1,000 large and small retailers went out of business. Among those that closed their doors for good were the fallen giants of Toys R Us and Maplin while countless others, including M&S, announced a raft of store closures.

The turmoil on the UK’s high streets has been caused by a number of factors ranging from reduced consumer confidence to ever increasing business rates and rents. Then of course it has been plagued by the rise – and rise – of online behemoths that have offered consumers competitive pricing and value-adds such as next day delivery.

An unlikely hero

Very much leading the assault on the high street has been Amazon, the one stop shop for seemingly everything and the pioneer of the Prime service. So, at the risk of quoting Alanis Morrisette, the sense of irony was not lost on us when Amazon opened it’s first bricks and mortar store, right here on our doorstep in Manchester.

Selling everything from food and drink to electronics, beauty products and homewares, and housing a number of Amazon Lockers for customers to collect their online orders, the store is the first of ten that Amazon plans to open across the UK this year. Part of a year-long pilot aimed at providing 100 small independent retailers their first taste of high street retailing, the store openings have been launched in partnership with the small business support organisation Enterprise Nation.

Explaining the decision to join forces with Amazon, Enterprise Nation highlighted that UK consumers like to be able to shop online and in-store, outlining that it hoped that the new stores would “help small businesses succeed by combining the best elements of online and high street retail”.

A change in fortunes?

This noble ambition certainly gives pause for thought on the idea that the UK high street is in terminal decline and gives some hope that it could yet be revived. After all Amazon hasn’t built its global success by backing losing horses, which would suggest that it’s first tentative steps onto the high street are part of a well-researched initiative aimed at further strengthening the business and meeting a consumer requirement.

If Amazon has got its calculations correct (which let’s face it, it usually does) it could be the start of a great revival for the UK high street. This will particularly true if the innovation of Amazon encourages others on the high street to modernise and innovate their approach to retailing, prompting further signs of life for traditional retailers.

Should this play out the giant of 21st century retailing that bought the high street to its knees could just be the one to help bring it back to life. Now that really would be ironic. 

Tagged with: Amazon, B2B PR agency Manchester , Lifestyle, Manchester, Marketing, North West , PR, PR Manchester

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Women’s world cup 2019: How media coverage helped raise the profile of women’s football

Women’s football’s coming home - the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is taking place until the 7th July and England have a real chance of winning the whole thing. Women’s football has never been more popular and there’s been plenty of build-up in the UK media with record viewing figures for the women’s game expected during the tournament.

It’s come a long way from being banned by the FA for 10 years in 1921, but the real rise of women’s football has only happened very recently. As part of my dissertation at university, I looked into the disparity in media coverage of men’s and women’s football to see whether there was a lack of interest or quality or if, with an increase in coverage, the sport would become more popular. This was back when there was very little coverage of the women’s game at all and I was sure that increased exposure would spark more interest in the sport.

In the build up to the 2015 Women’s World Cup, there was limited coverage of the England women’s team and the sports pages in newspapers and online were dominated by Premier League transfers, even though the men’s football season had finished. Women’s football needed to raise awareness of the sport through media coverage in order to get more people interested in it - this is essentially what we do for many of our clients at Refresh PR. Rather than the innovative PR strategies and campaigns that we use to generate media coverage for clients, it was the success of the England Women’s team at the 2015 World Cup that prompted a surge in newspaper, online and TV news coverage in the UK during the competition and got people talking about the game.

As the media coverage of the England women’s team increased throughout the tournament with lead stories on both the BBC and the Guardian websites, the popularity and viewing figures also increased; this prompted the BBC to promote England’s quarter final against Canada from BBC Three to BBC One where it was watched by 2.4 million people. Two years later at the European Championships in the Netherlands, media coverage was ramped up again and the viewing figures for England women’s semi-final against the host nation were in excess of four million.

As we head into the 2019 Women’s World Cup, women’s football is now entering the mainstream and in contrast to the last World Cup, there’s been extensive coverage in the build up to the competition. FIFA says more than 720,000 tickets have been sold and every game will be broadcast live on the BBC. There’s still a long way to go but the fact that six of FIFA’s global sponsors have pledged to spend the same on marketing at the Women’s World Cup as they did at the men’s in Russia, is a sign that popularity of the sport is now higher than ever.

Whilst there are many factors behind the rise of women’s football, there’s no doubt that the increase in press coverage has resulted in more people becoming interested in the sport, helping to demonstrate the power of the media. This is something we’ve witnessed first-hand when working with our clients; whether it’s through an article in a national newspaper or a sustained campaign targeting coverage in key trade magazines, we’ve been able to raise the profile of many of our clients, proving that the media still has an important role to play for both businesses and sports.

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